The Occupy Crackdown: Feminist Open Thread

Today is a crucial day for the Occupy movement. Last night, the Occupy Wall Street encampment was evicted under orders from Mayor Bloomberg, and many protesters were arrested upon returning to Zuccotti Park. A judge has now ruled against the encampment.

The need for honest, accurate media documentation has never been so crucial. That’s why Ms. is embedding video of what’s happening in New York, for feminists to watch and bear witness. Check back here as the day unfolds.

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In this time of conflict and arrests within the Occupy encampments, we must remember the people in the 99 percent who face particular risks of violence and mistreatment at the hands of police: women, trans and other LGBTQ, the undocumented, those with disabilities and protesters of color. Those on the ground, please look out for each other, and if you see someone being abused, speak up.

There’s been excellent and abundant feminist coverage of the Occupy movement, from first-hand experiences to exercises in theory. Now, as Occupy faces a critical juncture, we want to hear what you think.

Those who are Occupying, in New York and elsewhere, post your updates and thoughts from the front lines in the comments below, tweet them to us @msmagazine, or email pictures to

And all readers, we want to hear from you: What do you think of the Occupy movement? What will the events of the last 24 hours–and the next 24 hours–mean for the feminist movement?

Photo by flickr user Sunset Parkerpix under Creative Commons 2.0


  1. I find it interesting in the first paragraph the staement is made about the importance of “true” and “fair” journalism but in the very next paragraph it is said that police are still nothing more than “predujiced” and “brutes” bent on beating down the repressed. Law enforcement has spent decades trying to better theirselves when it comes to protecting and serving alll citizens. While 1% still have learning to do law enforcment have come a long way. Unfortunately those on the front lines take all the criticizism for those sitting in the safety of their offcies making the final decisions. Law enforcement is greatly outnumbered villianized and under appreciated but are expected to carry on protecting and serving everyone in the best possible manner available. I’ve noticed lately it’s ok to be agressive towards law enforcement but when law enforcement is agressive on a protective/defensive nature it is not ok. Maybe we should take a step back and try to look at this from both sides of the field instead of just assuming “history is repeating itself.” If my history lessons serve me correctly if law enforcement was still the “brutes” of the “old days” there’d be a lot more arrests and blood shed. It id not an easy time for either side on the ground because we have to keep balence between everyone’s safety and order and the right to protest even with no clear goal.

    • Mimi Seldner says:

      No one is accusing the cops of being the brutes of the old days- I personally reference the brutes of the current days in my distrust of police handling of marginalized groups during all aspects of detainment, arrest, and jail.. .

      I have no problem with the police and support and appreciate those who have “come a long way.” However, it is fact, not opinion, that many oppressed groups have and STILL HAVE, TO THIS DAY AND VERY MOMENT IN TIME, very real problems with police misconduct, violence, discrimination, and prejudice. It would not be fair or true to report any differently.

      P.S. Much, if not most, of the criticism of police actions regarding Occupy is not from people sitting “safely in their offices”, but from people who have first-hand witnessed the abuses, violence, and gross overreaction against the protesters, their injuries, harassment, and hospitalizations, etc. Including the numerous reporters who have been arrested for trying to cover it.

      • “Those sitting safely in their offices” is inreference to those in supervisory positions who decide (weither just or not) to break up these camps. And it’s my experience that the discrimination comes from everyone not just the 1% of police who need reeducation. Unfortunatlley police are counted among everyoneso not all are perfect. i’ve notice the reporters on site are showing more of the protester side of the protester/police encounter but play down those protester started acts of violence towards police. Even in most of the footage released leave me wanting to see the full scene/incident to have a better understanding of what happened. Both sides have probelms and problem people at the moment. What i ask for is a more “nuetral” set up in the news because at the end there are more police who are accepting than bigioted but alas that doesnt sell news nor lift up our cause in the “opressed” sense.

        • Mimi Seldner says:

          I definitely agree with you that people on both sides cause problems.

          I cannot agree, however, with the sentiment behind “there are more police who are accepting than bigoted” and that the police are merely acting on decisions passed down from supervisors.

          This gives the impression that “bad cops” are bad apples within a larger, accepting and non-bigoted police force, and also plays in to the dangerous feeling that they are “just doing their jobs” when they enforce unconstitutional decisions and inflict harm.

          The violence and discrimination within the police force is not the result of individuals, but a systematic failure to address bigotry and harmful practices within the force as a whole.

          And they ARE just doing their jobs. So were a lot of other people throughout the history of time who have caused a whole lot of damage. Sometimes you have to say no, no matter the consequences.

          What I ask for is a more “neutral” set up in police procedure…

          • I find this conversation interesting 🙂 i definately have to agree we will disagree about good police vs bad police. Again bad news sells bad reputations of the few supercede the truth. With regards to “doing their jobs” the legal “good concious” side of their job is on the frontline is the groups were advised of their eviction of property for both the inability of others being able to use the parka and the safety of thosse at the site. With situations of sanitation living conditions people were dieing there from both criminal and natural conditions. Police are tasked with protecting rights but also the overall safety of people. Police wouldve backed out if it was wrong on the same historical levels.

            But if we go by the few who are predjudice then womens movement is intro or have we decided that transwomen are allowed into the womyns music festival? And where do transmen stand in the lesbian world especially those who consider themselves genderqueer? And arent black and white gay activists still learning to get along? And what of the occupy protesters who sent fliers are around the az camp saying “attack cops”? Should the few visible put dwn the whole group?

            I did notice something tooday we as protesters/advocates and we as police frontline dont sit down and talk together. We fight amd argue our conceptions of each other out of anger but we dont find that common ground to minimize the misunderstandings.

            As a protester we expect police to be confrontational because we are only shown that side and a one sided view of this. We’re fighting for something. we want to be reafirmed by confrontation and conversation both.

            Police an outnumbered chaos that can break into a riot, a great hiding place for people who arent protesting that can hurt protesters and the police. It’s scarey being out numbered and not knowing what to expect.

          • Oh yea i forgot a point 🙂 if you start at the fed levels theres gay/straight/trans alliances and on the local police level theres classes implimented for better understandsings of all people. Plus police are learning for better or for worse at the end of the day you re only garuenteed back up is those you work with so we have to be acceptin g of each other at least enough to keep our differences sidelined to work together. Plus the amount of different people you have to work with and b impartial enough to correctly do the job it’s not productive to be helpful.

  2. It’s frustrating to walk past the Occupy camp in San Francisco every day on the way to and from work and see zero actual protesting. It looks more like a homeless encampment. In the few moments I’m actually walking by, I see fights, hear swearing, smell pot, etc. I think the Occupy moment has legitimate concerns, but the actual occupying of the parks and-in this case-ferry plaza make zero sense to me. What is the point? What the solutions being sought? Who is in charge? Until these questions can be answered, I’m thinking the camps do need to be broken up so the areas can be cleaned and businesses can get on with their business.

    • I am uncertain what the varying Occupy sites are like, as I personally have only taken part in Occupy St. Louis. However, as far as the encampment at Kiener Plaza in STL, I have seen quite the opposite of what you’ve described. Yes, there are those that are homeless that probably have taken part in the OWS Movement, but who better to represent financial ruin than those who have lost everything? I have seen no fights, heard no more cussing than I have at say a baseball game, sports bars or grocery markets. And though I’ve never myself ever smoked pot, I am quite certain I have smelled nothing of the sort there.

      I have taken my daughters down to the OSTL site several times as I feel the environment there was quite ridden with peaceful citizens who expressed genuine compassion and concern for one another; families who are seeking answers to the question of their child’s future and met there educated people from all sectors of American businesses. The camp was as clean as any Wal-Mart parking lot, the businesses surrounding the Plaza filled with customers who came to take part in or witness the Occupation and enjoying brisk sales. Not to mention that the park was not devoid of litter nor the homeless prior to the Occupation.

      No one person is in charge, this is true. But that is as it should be, as this is not a movement of leaders and followers…of presidents and pawns, rather it is a joint outcry for reform. OWS is not a perfect solution to an imperfect system, but movements don’t require perfection or even public approval by the masses. They are organic, faulty and inspiring all at once.

    • I felt the same way at first. But now I think there is great value in the disenfranchised and jobless making themselves visible. If we don’t have to walk past them every day, we can easily forget about or ignore them.

      I also think they’ve achieved something major in changing the discourse. We’re not talking about the deficit anymore – we’re talking about jobs and income inequality. And that’s a major step to doing something about those problems.

      That said, I hope they start making specific demands soon, for example regarding the regulation of the financial industry and the enforcement of consumer protections. They have bargaining power now because the government wants them to go away – they should use it by demanding specific reforms.

  3. janet freedman says:

    There has been a long history of social movements using women and other marginalized, oppressed groups as symbols of liberation — then insisting that the issues affecting these groups wait until “larger” issues are addressed.

    I am supportive of the 99%/Occupy movement and my visits to the Boston site have impressed me that this is a democratic, participative, progressive movement. But, more and more, i am noticing that the “spokespersons” interviewed by the media look a lot like those in earlier movements, to which a radical feminist movement was a response.

    It seems that the time has come for face-to-face regional gatherings of democratically chosen representatives of occupy cities. Using the same processes that are so moving to observe at General Assemblies they can come together

    to set down some principles that would be the foundation for the growth of the movement.

    bell hooks definition of feminism – “the struggle to end sexist oppression,” would be a good beginning. hooks wrote,”Its aim is not to benefit solely any specific group of women, any particular race or class of women.It does not privilege women over men. It has the power to transform in a meaningful way all our lives. Feminism as a movement to end sexist oppression directs our attention to systems of domination and the interrelatedness of sex, race and class oppression.” (to which we must add other oppressions based upon age, ehnicity, ability …)

    I am hoping this is the struggle in which the Occupy Movement is engaged. I am distressed that the physical sites are being dismantled, but hopeful that, while respecting the diversity of the many individuals and groups involved, the MOVEMENT will articulate and act from a strong declaration of principles.

    I think the moment has come for another Seneca Falls, or Port Huron (with many more feminists)

  4. Hilda Knowles says:

    By way of reporting, we in another state are planning to Occupy the Capitol. First time for us, but we are beyond being horrified at our politicians blatantly scarfing up huge $$$$$$$$ from corporations and crooks just to keep us oppressed. I am referring to American females who are denied their birthright in the US Constitution. That they are NOT mentioned once in the nation’s contract with its people, the Constitution! Laws are toothless, females are still second-class citizens (maybe not even considered that) in all spheres of society except a very few. Even though the military officials treat us as gender-equals, servicemen treat us as Comfort Women I am told by those who’ve experienced it. Men too are offered no protection from sex discrimination in the US Constitution.

    For those of us in SEVEN states who work for YOU for Free to get the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ratified by JUST 3 MORE STATES so that both genders are free to exercise full personhood and follow their own chosen trajectory, one that is not categorized by gender.

    Go to See for yourselves this fine, correct and comprehensive site to learn for yourself what we all do for this basic justice, for you. Contact the email listed there and note that their concerns are your concerns, the concerns of those quality people known as Occupiers. Write them!

  5. A common claim they make is that they are in the oppressed 99% of income earners, but the cut off between the top 1% of income earners and the rest is currently at about $593,000. a year. That’s right, the oppressed 99% includes millions of six figure salary earners, many of which happen to be the wall street bankers they’re protesting. So given they are demanding the top 1% to spread their wealth more to benefit the 99%, many of which are financially secure,and less than 1% of the US population is homeless , they are essentially arguing for the super rich to make the rich richer over helping the truly poor and desperate. How’s that for a go at logic? Like hippie libtards would understand it anyway.

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